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Soccer: Inter look to market to revive flagging season

Defensive flaws curtailing title ambitions

10 December, 17:14
Soccer: Inter look to market to revive flagging season (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, December 10 - Inter Milan are looking to new chairman Erick Thohir to boost their flagging campaign by bringing in new talent in the January transfer window.

Inter did not react to last season's disappointing season, when they failed to qualify for European competition, by splashing out on big-name signings in the summer.

Instead they persisted with the more prudent approach of recent years focused on promising young talent.

The most important arrival was coach Walter Mazzarri, who was lured to the three-time European champions after four successful years at Napoli.

They made a solid start, winning four of their first five Serie A games this season.

But they have fallen 12 points behind leaders Juventus after being held to draws in their last three games.

The problem is not Inter's attack, the most prolific in Serie A with 34 goals in 15 games, thanks in no small degree to the exceptional form of Argentine forward Rodrigo Palacio, who has scored nine.

So Thohir will probably be tempted not to spend money on a centre-forward if Palacio's compatriots Diego Milito and Mauro Icardi return soon from long-term injuries.

But Palacio's efforts have been stymied by concentration lapses and defensive blackouts, with the leadership of another injured Argentine, centre back Walter Samuel, being badly missed.

They have conceded 17 goals so far in the league, 12 more than second-placed AS Roma. Mazzarri has hinted that the squad needs bolstering, with a playmaker in midfield widely seen as necessary too, with 19-year-old Croatian Mateo Kovacic suffering from inconsistency.

Indonesian media magnate Thohir, who last month completed the operation to buy a controlling stake in Inter and replaced former owner Massimo Moratti as chairman, suggested the coach will not be disappointed.

"It's very likely that we'll make acquisitions and some members of the current squad will be loaned out," Thohir told Indonesian media.

"We'll decide together with the rest of the management". Moratti, who remains an Inter stakeholder and honorary chairman, believes the recent change at the club may be a factor in the poor form, although he has not lost his optimism.

"I'm still confident after these draws because I see a well balanced team and a good coach, including on the human level," Moratti said. "The squad managed not to get distracted by the change of ownership, although I think these results are in part due to the change taking place". Inter face a big test on Sunday when they take on Mazzarri's former side Napoli, who are currently third and rivals for Italy's final qualification slot in the Champions League.